In the most recent edition of Visions, BC’s quarterly magazine on mental health and addictions, Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), Ontario Director of Knowledge Transfer, Scott Mitchell, writes about the Minding Our Bodies initiative and how it has sparked other mental health projects at the local and provincial levels. Minding Our Bodies is led by CMHA Ontario and its goal is to help community mental health agencies provide more physical activity and healthy eating programs for people living with mental illness.
Our minds and bodies have a deep and complicated relationship. While we can’t say that all mental health issues cause physical health problems, or vice versa, we do know that they are intimately connected. Physical health problems impact stress, anxiety, mood and behaviours, for example.
Mitchell’s article highlights some of the key ingredients that have contributed to the strength and sustainability of Minding Our Bodies. These elements include:
- Social support – Minding Our Bodies cultivates a sense of belonging; a key element for recovery from mental illness. In addition, many of the programs create opportunities for peer leaders to emerge, which can help individuals gain skills and confidence.
- Local collaboration – Another key element of Minding Our Bodies programs’ is the emphasis on creating new and sustainable partnerships.
- Flow of ideas – Finally, as a provincial initiative, one of its core strengths has been its ability to provide a framework and catalyst for local collaboration and action.
The article also highlights other provincial level mental health projects, which have grown from Minding Our Bodies, including the Mood Walks program, a research agenda around nutrition and mental health and, mental health accessibility training for physical activity providers.